RIM’s unsold PlayBook tablets: visualizing the disaster

By on December 12, 2011
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How many PlayBooks are still gathering dust in warehouses around the world?

I’m sure you’ve heard that Research In Motion announced it had to take a $485 million write-down because of its miserable PlayBook sales. In other words, there are too many unsold PlayBooks around so RIM had to write them off, more or less, because it’s unlikely they will sell.

But how many PlayBooks are still gathering dust in warehouses around the world?

Let’s first look at how many have actually been sold. RIM has reported sales of 500,000 units in the first quarter after the April launch, 250,000 in the quarter after that, and 150,000 in the third fiscal quarter, which ended November 26.

That’s less than 1 million PlayBooks so far.

Poor RIM

I actually have a PlayBook and I’ve always thought it was a very nice tablet in many ways. Even though I’m no huge fan of 7-inch tablets, the PlayBook was a pleasant experience, with fast processor, great multitasking, and a nice form factor.

My main complaint from the start was the lack of apps and unfortunately I don’t feel that has improved much. Sure, most of the apps I needed were there or I could find substitutes, but it was nowhere near as good as on iOS or even Android.

So, in terms of hardware the PlayBook is very nice but the software has killed any interest, which is sad, because it’s one thing that could have been avoided.

But let’s have a little fun with RIM, okay?

How many unsold PlayBooks does RIM still have?

Opinions differ but there seems to be consensus that 1 million or more is a fair estimate. Some even say it’s as high as 1.4 million but let’s stick with 1 million.

The PlayBook is 9.7mm thick, so how far do we get if we stack 1 million PlayBooks on top of one another? Basically, let’s visualize RIM’s unsold inventory of tablets.

Some quick math and we get 9,700m, stacking one PlayBook on top of the other.

With Burj Khalifa being just short of 830m tall, we need almost 12 of the majestic towers stacked up to match RIM’s unsold PlayBooks.

This is of course just a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun but it does show the scale of the disaster RIM is facing. Being able to run Android apps on PlayBook or de-coupling it from the BlackBerry smartphone is unlikely to make any dent in the sales.

At this point, all RIM can hope for is a firesale in TouchPad style, to get rid of as many tablets as possible. For that, I feel really sad as the PlayBook deserves better.

But then so did the TouchPad.

Picture credit: Wikipedia.


I write and talk too much about tech. You can find my personal blog at Nystedt.org, my radio shows at dxbtech.com, and me on Twitter as mnystedt.

  • Legally Loaded

    They need to port Android to it themselves, and then do an HP size discount.

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